Electrifying races, unexpected finishes, and high expectations—track and field has captivated audiences for more than 11 centuries. When the bar is set and stakes are high, inspiring athletes find a way to make their mark and leave the audience speechless.
Canadian Sprinter Sam Effah is one of these athletes.
For Sam, winning is a choice. A choice he makes hundreds of times a day. Whether it’s setting goals, training, or eating right, Sam makes each decision with his end goal in mind. These tiny decisions separate him from other elite athletes and give him an edge above the competition.
Sam is a natural in track and field, but he isn’t what you would call a seasoned veteran. In fact, Sam didn’t start competing until he was 19. He was originally recruited to the University of Calgary as a football player, but that was short-lived due to his size. “I was 150 pounds, so I couldn’t take a hit,” Sam says. “So, the next natural step was like, I know I’m fast, so let’s see what the track team has to offer.” And, with this decision, he began to make history.
“My first year I won a national university silver medal. And my second year I won four golds. And the fourth year I broke the 60-meter Canadian national university record. I was the fastest in Canadian university history. So, I said, OK, this feels like a sign for me to keep going especially with all of this positive progression. From there I evolved from just being a competitor at national championships to winning outdoor national titles and being crowned the fastest man in Canada.”
The sport of track and field is filled with injury and setbacks, and Sam has experienced many. In 2014 he suffered torn labrums in both his left and right hips resulting in limited use of his left leg for months, and it took around two years—plus surgery— before he was back to his old self. Some, when faced with such devastating injuries, would be inclined to give up—not Sam. He is a shining example of someone who learns from adversity and turns weakness into strength.
“I think the setbacks I went through created resilience. You know, adversity builds character. If everything was a smooth ride, I feel I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I wouldn’t have learned.”
Now, Sam is back, fully recovered and stronger than ever. He has a second chance to make history in his sport and he isn’t about to take it for granted. After a long and arduous road to recovery, he’s competing with one major goal in mind—Tokyo 2020.
The Best Never Rest
A large part of Sam’s success is due to his intense workouts and strict diet plan. He takes his nutrition very seriously and is always looking for new ways to help his body be the best it can be. Hours of training in the gym are always matched with healthy foods that promote smart recovery. Together, they are staples to his success as an athlete.
“My training regimen is pretty intense,” Sam says. “Nutrition is huge. With USANA, I usually take the HealthPak™ in the morning, and then I’ll have an hour and a half to two hours on the track, and then I’ll have another hour and a half in the weight room. After that, I’ll usually take my shake.”
Proper recovery as an athlete is key to success. Sam drinks USANA MySmart® protein shakes before and after workouts to give his body the essential nutrients to recover.*
“The thing with track and field is, yes, it’s awesome to be fast, but if you’re not recovered then you’ll never be able to reach your speed and be back on the track for another quality season. The difference between first and seventh place can be a tenth of a second. And if nutrition can cut that down by five-one-hundredths of a second, then it’s definitely worth it.”
Whether you’re an athlete or not, goals are important. They motivate us to become more than we are and help us to reach our full potential. When asked what advice Sam would give to others chasing their goals and dreams, he responded “consistency.”
“Success is being able to be consistent in my training. And that’s changed from when I first started, because I only had one goal in the very beginning, and that was to win. I realized there’s so much more to this sport.”
Another big part of reaching your goals is immersing yourself in a positive and healthy environment. Surrounding yourself with those who believe in you like family members and close friends can bring positive reinforcement and block out negative energy. For Sam, this means surrounding himself with his biggest influencers such as coaches, teammates, and friends.
“Having a support system in training is so huge,” Sam says. “It seems like track and field is an individual sport, but my team is my coach, my team is my nutritionist, my team is my strength coach, my team is my teammates. One of my teammates is a world champion, and each and every day I try and beat him. But at the same time, we work together, pushing each other in training. At the end of the day, we’re both rooting for each other to get better.”
Do What You Love—Be Happy
Goals are important to Sam, but not all of them are sport related. In his free time, you can find him giving back to others and shining bright in his community. “Another goal of mine is to be able to bring other people together. I think the cool thing with having sponsors, supporters, and fans is the journey you all get to go through together. Success to me is not only being happy with myself, but also to bring a community with me.”
Sam serves his community in a variety of ways, but one of his favorites is working with school-aged kids and young athletes. He loves teaching skills such as teamwork, goal setting, and leadership. “Motivating others in schools and communities is important to me because I feel there are so many transferable skills that athletes have we can all share.”
Sam is a big believer in doing what you love and often reminds people to be passionate and chase their dreams. When he gives speeches at schools or corporate events he likes to remind everyone to chase what they love and never look back.
“I’m 30 years old and running an amateur sport. Sometimes people look at me like I’m crazy, but I look at them like, I’m doing what I love. I’m happy. You’ve got to ask yourself, are you happy?”
Sights Set on Tokyo 2020
For an athlete like Sam Effah, the sky is the limit, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The next big step for him is qualifying and competing in Tokyo in 2020.
“I’m putting everything into 2020. That’s my goal. If you’re a track athlete and you’re being serious, you have to put that out there. My goal is to be in Tokyo and then take it one step at a time, every heat, the semi, and final.”
7 Facts About Sam
Why he trusts USANA: I love that there’s a guarantee—the million-dollar guarantee. I think that’s awesome. Any company that’s going to guarantee their products—they’re proud of their products—and they’ll put that much cash behind it, that right there is huge.
His favorite USANA product: I like the USANA MySmart protein shake, the whey. For me as an athlete, I want as simple as possible. It has as much protein as I need, is super convenient, and tastes good.
Eerily relaxing: When I have a few minutes off I like to hang with friends and watch Netflix. I love Black Mirror.
Off-season jet-setting: In the offseason I’ll actually explore. I’ve gone on a couple trips to Europe. Just seeing other cultures is fascinating to me. My family is from West Africa—from Ghana—so I want to head there next. Any kind of traveling, that’s where I’m at.
If he weren’t running track, it’s all about community: I would for sure be involved in community development. Being able to manage athletes and people to create a community, but at the same time, give people incentive to better themselves, whether nutritionally or through a healthy lifestyle.
What he’s listening to: I really like Chance the Rapper. I love his sound, his style. He’s just super authentic from what I’ve seen.
Hit him up on social media: I’m on both Instagram and Twitter—my handle is @Sam_Effah. If anybody wants to reach out, I love connecting.